Jane Eyre, By Charlotte Bronte Essay

1093 words - 4 pages


Set in the early nineteenth century, Charlotte Bronte’s coming-of-age novel, Jane Eyre remarks upon the ill acceptance of social behaviours between various social classes in the Victorian era. When Queen Victoria ascended the throne in 1832, Britain began its transformation into a world power and the fascinating aspect of that time period is the rigid class systems between the rich and poor, which also attributed to the social and economic injustice between the classes. Throughout the novel, particularly those of the experiences of Jane Eyre, it is possible to observe how Bronte expresses her “personal” modernism in Jane Eyre. Rising from this modernism, the variable that enabled the Jane Eyre to outcompete her evolutionary rivals is passion. Indeed, passion is the hallmark of modernism, aiding the prevalence of Jane Eyre amongst the mindless followers of the upper-class, albeit whilst hiding an inherent dilemma. This dilemma is the cognitive shift in the logic of the social class system, underpinned by the misperception of social behaviours stemming from this class system. This is an examination of this shift in how society is viewed, brought about by standards set by the upper class, incorporating an analysis of why Victorian readers cannot be forgiven for holding the belief that social class defines social behaviour, and discussing the way in which Jane Eyre has disclosed the altered human attitudes, values, and beliefs about the discourse of social class and behaviour.

Social class, defined by the Australia Macquarie Dictionary as, “…a group which is part of the hierarchical structure of a society, usually classified by occupation, and having common economic, cultural and political status”, is a ubiquitous element of present and past societies. However, this straightforward definition belies a complex relationship between this system and those for whom it serves. More than a simply specialised system, social class extends and places the lives of billions of people worldwide or nationally in their class that corresponds to, more often than not, their social behaviour; and classify them into Upper, Middle and Working Class. Likewise in Jane Eyre, exploitations of social behaviour are evident through words such as, “knawn’t”, “nay” (p. 428) spoken by a countryside woman of working class, are conceived by Bronte to illustration how the working class is simple in thoughts and motives (actions), while Miss Ingram, a wealthy and upper class lady is represented with sophistication, as “she entered into a discourse on botany with the gentle Mrs Dent… trailing Mrs Dent... her trail might be clever, but it was decidedly not good-natured. She played: her execution brilliant; she sang: her voice was fine; she talked French apart to her mama: and she talked it very well, with fluency and with a good accent” (p. 228). Both examples of women lived in England in the 1800s during Queen Elizabeth’s reign, belonging in the various levels of social...

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